7 Steps to a Gluten-Free Diet


Step One: Inventory

You or someone in your family has just been diagnosed with celiac
disease, autism, ADHD or food allergies, and told to eat a
Gluten-Free Diet. No need to feel overwhelmed!

Eating gluten-free is surprisingly easy.

Step one involves taking inventory of your fridge and pantry, to
find out what things you already have before you venture to the grocery

Look for:
-Dairy: milk, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, yogurt, sour cream,
ice cream. (This is not he case if you also have to eat casein-free. There are other alternatives.)
-Fresh meats: beef, pork, chicken and fish, WITHOUT breading or batter.
-Potatoes and rice.
-Mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, barbeque sauce, steak sauce, vinaigrette
and Italian dressings, hot sauce.
-Sherbet and popsicles.
-Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables, and salads.
-Fresh, frozen and canned fruits.
-Jello, Jello pudding, pudding cups, fruit cups, jello cups.
-Canned meats: tuna, chicken, Spam, Vienna sausages.
-Spaghetti Sauce, chili, beans – read labels!
-Peanut butter, jam, honey.
-Lays Classic or Baked Potato Chips.
-Corn tortillas and salsa, corn taco shells.

Foods with gluten to watch out for:
-Breads, rolls, muffins, flour tortillas, pitas, bagels, buns.
-Cookies, cakes, pies.
-Cereals, crackers, pretzels, croutons, imitation bacon bits.
-Regular oats, any wheat flours, pancake mixes, other mixes.
-All pastas made from wheat flours.
-Soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, other cooking sauces, dressings – read labels!
-Imitation crab or seafood.
-Processed lunch meats, other processed foods – read labels!
-Beer, malt flavoring, candy, flavored potato chips.
-Mixes for tacos, enchiladas, etc; gravy mixes, marinade mixes, etc

Have your pharmacist check your prescriptions, vitamins and

No more licking envelopes or postage stamps – the glue has gluten.

Once more, READ LABELS!!!

Step Two: A Starter Shopping List

Gluten-free foods are becoming more common every day. It has reached the point that most chain grocery stores carry several gluten free items.

This list will be for your regular, main grocery store. [Next time
we'll talk about venturing out to the health food/natural food

-Gluten-free flours. I like to keep many on hand. Most I get from a health food store, but you can usually find some gluten-free flours in most chain grocery store. I usually use
three kinds when baking. It helps the flavor because then you won’t be tasting one dominant flour. Many chain grocery stores they have some gluten-free baking products such as Bob’s Red Mill brand.

-Gluten-free oats. Bob’s Red Mill makes gluten-free oats and may be found in your grocery store. If not you can find gluten-free oats at a health food store.

-Guar gum and zantham gum. They work as a “binder” to hold flours together, but guar gum is about 1/3 the cost. I use guar gum in my recipes.

-Hot breakfast cereals. Bob’s Red Mill has a delicious Creamy Rice, if you like cooked cereals. It is made with brown rice and has a wonderful flavor. Another thing I use is quinoa, which is a nutty tasting grain. It can be used as a hot breakfast.

-Gluten-free cereals. Pebbles, Rice Chex, Corn Chex, Cinnamon Chex and Honey-Nut Chex are gluten-free. You may find more gluten-free cereals in the gluten-free section. Rice Krispies and Corn Puffs are contaminated with wheat, so they are not gluten-free.

-Pasta. I don’t like rice pasta, since it falls apart or disintegrates very easily. Look for corn or other gluten-free pastas. [You will find more at health food stores.]

-Gluten-free soups. Progresso Garden Vegetable & Progresso New England Clam Chowder are gluten-free. Read soup labels to find more. Cream soups, like Cream of Chicken, Cream of Mushroom and other soups you might use in your recipes have gluten. Even some beef and chicken broths and stock have gluten – so READ LABELS.

-Bouillons. Knorr-brand Caldo con Res [beef] and Knorr-brand Caldo con Pollo [chicken] are wonderful. They are found in the with the Hispanic foods. I use these bouillons – they have wonderful flavor and make great gravy!

-Cornstarch for gravy and other thickening.

-Seasonings. You may already have seasonings you like. I use a variety of seasoning salt, celery salt, onion salt, garlic salt, Mrs Dash, dill weed, oregano, etc.

-Lemons & limes. It’s time to BRING OUT the FLAVORS in food and make it
TASTE GREAT! Lemon, lime, and zest from both can be added to rice, fried potatoes, fish, vegetables, etc. I use them often in my recipes.

-Rice Cakes. Carmel cakes are great with peanut butter and jam, white cheddar cakes are good with tuna fish mixed with mayo. If you have a dairy intolerance (casein-free) buy regular salted rice cakes – I do!

-Corn tortilla shells for tacos.

-Corn chips and salsa.

-La Choy-brand soy sauce and teriyaki sauce are gluten-free.

-Fresh herbs. I have found these to have great flavor. Learn to buy fresh parsley, basil and garlic cloves. They are worth the extra chopping!

-Rice. I have come to love rice! It’s easy to prepare and is a great addition to meals. I buy brown rice from Costco, white and wild rice for a variety.

-Potatoes. Again, I like a variety. I usually buy yellow or red skinned potatoes and leave the skins on, to make fries, wedges and home-style mashed potatoes.

Salad Dressing. There are several that are gluten-free. All Italians, balsamics and honey-mustards. Read labels.

-Mayonnaise, mustard, barbeque sauce. Kraft mayonnaise is gluten-free. Others may be too. Mustard and most barbeque sauces are gluten-free.

-Olive oil spray. You will need this for many cooking recipes.

Step 3: Venturing into the World of Health/Natural/Organic Stores

Whole Foods Market, Trader Joes and Good Earth are just a few of the common health food stores. Depending on where you live, you may also find specific gluten-free stores.With a little online search you should be able to find stores in your area. For example, I put in a Google search one zipcode and found store names such as “Good Earth Natural Foods,” “Against the Grain,” and “Shirlyn’s Natural Foods.”

If you don’t live near any health/natural/organic markets, you can do a couple of things. When you have the chance to travel, stock up on things. It is also fairly simple to shop from the internet. Bob’s Red Mill is a great place to start! They give discounts for products bought in bulk. You may want to try out some of their product to see what types of things you like before placing a large order.

Here is a list of things to look for in a health/natural/organic

-Gluten-free flours: white rice, brown rice, quinoa, millet, tapioca, potato, soy,
flax seed, garbanzo bean, sweet potato, and all purpose baking flour.

-Guar gum. Xantham gum is usually called for in recipes. Guar gum works the same, but costs 1/3 the price.

-Gluten-free oats

-There are MANY gluten-free breakfast cereals, including crispy brown rice, Cheerio-like cereals and granolas. There is an assortment of sweetened children’s cereals.

-Gluten-free pastas. I have used rice, corn, quinoa and Jerusalem artichoke pastas. I don’t like using rice because it disintegrates very easily. Corn, quinoa and Jerusalem artichoke taste great! I cook them for 7 minutes, instead of my normal 9, to avoid crumbling.

-Gluten-free breads. Look in the fridge and in the freezer sections. Most loaves will look small and feel heavy. [They were difficult for me to get used to since they are thick and dry - until I discovered toasting them!]. If you are looking for casein-free bread, look for fruit juice bread or Kinnikinnick brand bread.

-Gluten-free frozen waffles

*Gluten-free pizza shells. I’ve bought mine both from the shelf
and from the freezer. My favorite it Kinnikinnick brand.

-Gluten-free piecrust – in the fridge section. Some places let you
order pie crusts near the holidays.

-Gluten-free crackers – I have found many brands.

-Gluten-free cookies

-Gluten-free baking mixes. These are never as good as a homemade
recipe, but are easy if you prefer mixes.

-Gluten-free Soy Sauce (you can buy La Choy at your grocery store.)

-Gluten-free Teriyaki Sauce (also in La Choy.)

-Gluten-free pretzels – VERY GOOD!

It’s fun to see what other items you can find on the shelves or in
the fridge and freezer. AGAIN – read the ingredients OR look for

Step 4: I’m Hungry! What Can I Eat in a Hurry? Tips to Quick and Easy Snacks and Meals.

We all do it – open the fridge then STARE… always expecting
something to just be sitting there. Then we open the cupboard and
gaze… longingly.

Here are some of my own quick fixes!

-Scramble some eggs with shredded cheddar cheese. (Casein-free: I
keep some pre-cooked sausage paddies in my freezer.)

-Cottage cheese goes with salty things like crackers, or with
canned or fresh fruit.

-Microwave some gluten-free oatmeal: In a large microwavable cereal
bowl put 1/2 cup oats with one scant cup water. Microwave for two
minutes. Stir. Add milk and brown sugar. Also great with vanilla yogurt.
(Use vanilla soy or rice milk for casein-free.)

-Microwave some Bob’s Red Mill Creamy Rice: In large cereal bowl
put 1/3 cup Creamy Rice with one cup water. Microwave for about
1-1/2minutes. Stir. Microwave for another minute and stir. Add milk
and brown sugar. (Soy or rice milk.)

-Keep a good supply of yogurt, pudding cups, fruit cups,
jell-and-fruit cups, and applesauce cups in your fridge. (Casein free:
jello cups and fruit cups.)

-Fix a quick salad – my FAVE is sliced strawberries with baby
spinach with my own vinaigrette – 1/3 cup virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup
vinaigrette, 1/3 cup sugar – SHAKE and poor over the salad.

-Keep some fresh veggies. Either buy them prepared, or keep some
peeled and cut up. They are good dipped in Hidden Valley Ranch
Dressing – it’s gluten-free. (Casein-free: I love honey-mustard dressing!)

-Fresh fruits year-round: apples, oranges, red and green grapes,
blueberries, bananas.

-Fresh fruit bowl.

-Bake a few potatoes in the microwave and keep them in the fridge.
It’s quick and easy to take out a potato, cut it up and fry it in
butter or olive oil.

-Keep extra rice in a storage container in the fridge. Warmed rice
is good with many sauces – gluten-free teriyaki, gluten-free soy
sauce, lemon, or quick gravy made with Knorr Caldo de pollo
bouillon and cornstarch.

-Keep some beef and salmon patties in your freezer. Use a small
grill to quickly grill one – add A-1 for beef and lemon with mayo
for salmon. [I buy Black Angus beef patties at Walmart, and fresh
salmon patties at Costco.]

-Keep vanilla ice cream in the freezer. Make a shake using your
blender with milk and bananas, berries, jam, chocolate milk powder,
etc. Be creative! (Casein-free: Italian ice from grocery store and sorbet
from frozen yogurt shops.)

-Popsicles and fruit or fudge bars are a cool summer treat!

-Rice cakes with peanut butter and jam OR tuna fish with mayo.

-Nuts! Add M&Ms and/or raisins for your own trail mix.

-Popcorn. (Look for natural, no butter for casein-free.)

Step 5: Time to Throw Away!

Along with being diagnosed and learning you or a loved one will be living and eating a new way, there comes the hard part, which is the reality of having to get rid of some things!

Start with utensils, dishes, pans, etc. If you have WOODEN mixing/cooking spoons – THROW THEM AWAY! (Gluten lives in wood.)

If you have wooden bowls, salad tongs/forks/spoons, or a wooden cutting board – THROW THEM AWAY!

If you have Teflon frying pans – look to see if they have cuts in the Teflon. If they do – THROW THEM AWAY.

And, your toaster. It is contaminated with gluten. THROW IT AWAY! Unless you have family members who will still eat wheat flour bread, then you can keep it for them.

Now, who likes to shop??? Okay, so it’s a little hard all at once, but begin by buying:

*PLASTIC cooking/mixing spoons to replace your wooden ones.

*Plastic cutting board.

*Teflon frying pans. Always use a plastic or Teflon-coated spatula.

*Toaster. Be happy when you buy a new one, because it will make your gluten-free bread TASTE GREAT!

More good investments include:

*An assortment of glass bowls that are microwave and ovenproof. Check Walmart for a set that comes with lids, too.

*Electric mixer, if you don’t have one. I have always used a hand mixer, and have burned out many! I have been SO HAPPY since I invested in my Sunbeam Mixer – about $50 at Walmart!

*A bread mixer or bread machine. Bread mixers are nice because they do a good job at kneading the bread. They also make great rolls. They can cost about $500. However, a bread maker can be on sale for about $125. If you already have one, be creative and enjoy!!!

Step 6: Cooking and Baking Tips For Gluten-Free Chefs

Now that you’re a bit more organized with some gluten-free items, I’ll give you my tips to make the finished product delicious!

*Using gluten-free flours: By always combining THREE different flours when baking, there will not be an unpleasant dominant taste of one flour. Any of my recipes can be changed to use ANY THREE gluten-free flours.

*Binders: Guar gum and xanthan gum are both used to bind the flours together. I use guar gum because it’s about 1/3 the price of xanthan gum. You need a binder because gluten-free flours tend to be crumbly. Eggs are also a binder.

*Baking with gluten-free oats: Oats added to baking recipes make them fluffier and lighter. They also give a nice flavor. I add gluten-free oats as often as possible.

*Peanut butter, added to chocolate chip cookies isn’t a dominant taste, but it works as a binder, and adds moisture.

*There are different things that can make baking goodies more flavorful, rich and moist: Experiment with your recipes using sour cream instead of milk, applesauce instead of cooking oil, shortening instead of butter (good for children who are also on a dairy-free diet). An extra egg also adds moistness.

Step 7: Tips to becoming Healthy!

If you’ve just received a celiac disease diagnosis, chances are you are malnourished, have anemia, along with so many other health problems. It takes the VILLI in the small intestine about 6 weeks to completely heal.

First, give yourself a little time to recover, and just concentrate on eating right!

As soon as you are feeling a bit healthier, you may want to consider doing some additional things to your diet.

*Give up that soda pop! It’s loaded with empty calories and sugar – or unhealthy sugar additives – with carbonation. Most likely, this bloats your tummy and makes your feel full and miserable.

*Watch for foods that may bloat, such as beans. I love beans, but after being miserable every time I ate them, I decided to give them up! Drinking more water along with beans helps.

*Eliminate vegetables that can cause bloating: Pay attention to your body and how it reacts when you eat foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, and iceburg lettuce. Find out what your body likes! (I don’t enjoy looking 6-months pregnant EVERY NIGHT!!!)

*Eliminate junk food from your diet! I became hooked on Lays Classic potato chips after my diagnosis! But, they made me feel sick. Pay attention to your body and note the things you’ve eaten when you feel bloated, have cramps, diahrrea, or constipation.

*Does your mouth get sores when you eat nuts, strawberries or pineapple? This is a good sign that your stomach doesn’t like them either!

*Supplement your diet if you need more calorie intake. Boost and Ensure shakes are easy in-between meals. Also, a homemade milkshake is a good source of calories. If you’re out running errands, grab a Frosty from Wendy’s!

*At the movie theater: Popcorn with butter is okay. Instead of a hotdog, order nachos with cheese and top it with jalapenos. Other items you can have include dill pickles, soda pop (if you haven’t given it up yet), fruit juices, and bottled water. Some candies are okay – read the ingredients. Remember: Licorice has wheat gluten.

*Find an exercise regimen. It’s a good idea to walk on a treadmill, use a stair master or ride a stationary bike for 30 minutes as many days as possible! Using weights or muscle building machine sets are also important, since you may have low weight, or weight gain with a celiac diagnosis.

*Enjoy eating a new and VERY HEALTHY gluten-free diet!

Comments on 7 Steps to a Gluten-Free Diet

December 9, 2012

Laura McCue @ 7:07 am #

Just got the diagnosis last week so have spent a few days combing the internet to get ready and found this site. Marked now as a favorite. So helpful to the newbie. Thank you so much for your work and willingness to share with others. Much appreciated. I will pass it on to many of my newfound gluten free friends…especially with my family as they are all now being tested as well.

June 27, 2013

KaraW @ 5:29 pm #

Thank you for the great tips. Very helpful to the newbie!